Each hat a writer wears—whether Creator, Reader, or Editor—supplies a unique perspective to a specific task, each with a distinct purpose. Although they complement one another, no two hats can be worn at the same time.
The Creator Hat: The Burning Stage
Once the idea is firmly entrenched (the What If answered, as in my novel, what if a disheartened immortal yearns to be dead), I mull it over and allow my subconscious to work on it beneath the surface. This can take a few days or weeks, depending on the project—it is usually on the shorter side because I want to get on with the writing while the fire of creation burns hot; the reason I call this hat The Burning Stage.
The Creator Hat is worn during first draft, and may be before or after having outlined the characters and plot. The process of writing begins with an idea; the idea will not—and probably should not—be complete during the first draft. Part of the joy that comes with creation is the journey. Although I have a plan where the story will go, I enjoy the process of the story unfolding as I write; it evokes the mystery, and then surprise, when twists and turns appear—the exciting element of creation.
The Reader Hat: The Glow Stage
There should be an extended time-gap between the Creator Phase and the Reader Phase. With shorter works, a week is enough, but with a novel, at least two weeks is recommended, more if possible. Fight the urges to start this phase too soon. You want to let the first draft cool in your mind so when you read the initial time after creation, the writing will be new, and as much as possible, fresh like a reader who first opens the book. The Glow Stage.
The Editor Hat: The Smoldering Stage
The Editor Hat is the most precarious of the three, in that it will demand to be worn when it is the worst possible thing to do. Be wary of the editor, because he has a nasty side (per Jekyll and Hyde), known as the Critic.
At this point, re-read the first draft from beginning to end and make only scattered notes as to flow and desired path. Ponder certain aspects, turning scenes around in your mind, changing viewpoints, altering dialogue to add tension and conflict: The Smoldering Stage.
This first revision is where you begin to flesh out the characters, enhance the settings, and tighten the plot. Scenes or even chapters may be moved (or eliminated entirely), and new ones will take their place. During the first revision, start with an overview; don’t necessarily spend too much time making corrections to sentences and phraseology—that will come later. Instead, focus on the plot and flow of the novel, where chapters start and stop, the natural breaks in the story, and any logistical issues.
Next Week: The Creator Hat—The Burning Stage elaborated.
Go write . . . .
This Week’s Quote:
“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” Robert Frost